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tv   Newsmakers  CSPAN  February 12, 2012 6:00pm-6:30pm EST

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o on those and had a lasting effect on politics. >> do they not have the right to protest and rebelled against the government that they deal does not serve their interests? who appointed us to sacrifice the lives of young americans trying to weigh in on the side of a government that represents perhaps 15% of the people of lebanon and have little or no apparent support from the other 85%? >> c-span.org/thecontenders. "just the way i remember it. here is that wonderful moment when senator lott revealed his nostalgic and for the states' rights segregationist south. >> when strom thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. we were proud of him. >> publisher joshua marshall on the internet and his website's emergence into the breaking news business. >> the media ecosystem is such a
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different world today than it was coming hard to believe coming 10 years ago. things like that happen all the time -- than it was, hard to believe, at 10 years ago. there are some big stories we have had over the last decade. now a have an editorial staff of 20 people so we are breaking stories right and left. it has almost become commonplace. it is not nearly as surprising today as it was back then. >> more about josh marshall tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern and pacific and c-span's "q&a." >> we have the chairman of the senate natural resources committee. >> jeff bingaman, a democrat of new mexico. two reporters to help us. publishing and darren sameulson. he is with politico pro.
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alana, go ahead with your first question. >> a topic that you considered holding a hearing on as the solyndra scandal was becoming a political football. are you now considering a more public investigation into the program? >> there have been a lot of investigations. i do not know if it would be appropriate for our committee to try to do another investigation. we want to know what the new report says and what conclusions have been reached and what actions demonstration is going to take. we have secretary chu testifying on his new budget proposal for the department of energy on thursday. we need to figure out what
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additional steps we might take. there has been a lot of politics and not a whole lot of new substantive in sight -- insight in the coverage so far. everyone wants the loan guarantee program to work in the right way. we do not want to waste taxpayer money. as far as i can tell, you have professional people making judgments on the basis of the information they had. with 20/20 hindsight, we can say they made some mistakes. they committed money to companies they should not have committed money to. there was private investment in the company. it was not just the government making a mistake.
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private investors also made mistakes. some of the same spat -- same facts to private investors made. >> why not have your committee respond in order to have your side of the argument out there publicly on the loan guarantee program? >> secretary chu has done a good job in his testimony for making this case on why this is an important program. they want to continue to have a loan guarantee program. i do not just want to provide
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another forum for political attacks. to the extent that there are recommendations coming out of this report that are useful and that we should be considering legislation on, it is appropriate for our committee to do something. since the report has just come out, i do not know if that is the case yet. >> are you concerned that if democrats do not come out and make a shopper defense, we could see the 2013 budget cut down to nothing as the republicans might propose? >> republicans might like to see the government get out of the loan guarantee business. not just the loan guarantee business.
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they would like to see drastic cuts in support for alternative energy development generally. their position has been that the market should solve whatever energy problems the country has got and the government should do less. i do not subscribe to that du -- view myself. the private sector has a main role, but the government can be a great help in meeting our energy challenges. there is a philosophical disagreement between many republicans and the view i would take. we will fight them. much of the budget negotiations that will take place and appropriations will be that fight. it will be a question of whether the government has a legitimate role to play in trying to promote a diverse set of energy sources and development of new energy
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sources or whether we should just back away and continue to rely upon the sources we have always had. >> to you have any regrets in trying to push the underlying loan guarantee program? >> senator day medici -- dominici wrote that proposal. it was titled 17 of the two thousand -- title 17 of the 2005 bill. we thought it was a great opportunity for the government to assist private companies. we had a major push back from the various governmental entities involved. we were not able to get any loan guarantees out of the door until the obama administration
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took office in 2009 and began to focus on trying to use that provision. we were not able to anticipate the extent of the resistance. it would have been much better had the program gotten up and running while george w. bush was president. then we would have had more big track record. we would have known more about how to proceed and we would have had more bipartisan support for it. >> moving on to the keystone excel pipeline, the white house continues to push it off to 2013 saying we have not rejected this project on the merits. we want to give it a full review over this long period. republicans object.
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how do you feel the white house has handled this? is it time for them to come to a compromise given with the issue has become? >> the basic point they are making is a valid one. they should not be forced to issue a permit until they are satisfied on the environmental effects involved. that point is valid. whether that requires another six or eight months, that is open to question. it is a good issue to try to get resolved. the american public would like to see us go ahead with the project to the extent they know what the project entails. it sounds meritorious. we have pipelines all over the country. that is true with most members
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of congress, too. most members of congress would like to get the issue resolved. there are ways to get it resolved. >> would you consider using the tuesday's forum with leadership as a way to come together and find a way forward on keystone? >> the congress is reacting to actions by the administration. we need to see what the administration is going to do. if the course of action that is described by the administration is reasonable, i would hope to support that. the idea that there is an urgency about getting this permit approved, i do not buy into that. we have a lot of oil. we are refining more petroleum products than we can use in this country. we are exporting petroleum
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products. gas production is up. zero oil production is up. the ad -- oil production is up. the idea that we have an economic problem that needs a streamlined process, i do not buy it. there are lots of things on the plate that will create jobs that will be reflected in the president also budget. >> the republicans have tried to push the keystone pipeline in the transportation bill. mitt romney sees this as one of his most popular lines. how has this become so political? >> the issues related to energy
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that seem to get the most attention are the ones that seem to have some political bite to them, at least in the view of the republican candidates these days. that is why we have heard so much about solyndra and keystone. the more significant issues that have to do with all our energy future are getting short shrift. as the debate goes on as we approach the election campaign, we will have some serious discussion about what we should be doing with regard to alternative energy, what we should be doing with regard to some of these things. there is a major difference of opinion. the public not been made
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sufficiently aware of it. >> what do you think president obama should outline as an energy policy in his second term? >> he has outlined the major parts of an energy policy in his first term. he has been trying to make progress in the continuing to emphasize production. he is putting more effort in developing alternative sources of energy so we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. i assume he will have that as his platform going forward. >> do you think he needs to be more specific? >> he has been specific on a lot of that. the budget we see will be specific on how much money he is proposing that we spend. >> going back to politics and keystone for a brief moment, he said whether or not this pipeline needs six to eight more months is a question.
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in nebraska, they say it will only take 6-8 months. the think the white house decision to put this off is a political choice? -- do you think the white house decision to put this off is a political choice? >> this is not a unique issue. there are a lot of issues that people say, we are going to have some that people no matter what we decide. let's try to get through the election until -- before we decide. that view is being taken on a lot of issues and always is by incumbents in public office. look at the agenda in congress.
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there are a lot of things that could be brought up and discuss that are not being brought up and discussed. >> we have 10 minutes left. let's discuss your committee work. there were bills ticket and have not necessarily gotten a final ok. claire mccaskill speaks about our partisan successes. she is wondering when democratic leaders will move. will you tell them to move quickly on bills that are piling up? >> the problem is a practical one. when he brings a bill to the senate floor, unless there is agreement with republican members of the senate, we have unlimited debate and unlimited
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right to amend. that gets you to a circumstance where you cannot complete a bill. you wind up having to get cloture and 60 votes. people say, you try to cut off debate before i got my amendments. senator reid is looking at all of those problems and trying to say, can we maneuvered through the los? will there be enough cooperation from republican leadership and republican members of the senate to allow us to complete action on the bill if i bring a bill to the floor? he is the only was it who can make that judgment. it is a difficult judgment to make.
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some of his presidency is not because he does not support the bill. he would like to see them enacted. do we really have a chance to get them through the senate? can we get the house to agree to them? you do not want to spend four weeks in the senate tried to pass a bill. they do not want to see the president sign anything in the rose garden before the election. >> one of the bells you are about to introduce is the clean energy -- bill is the clean energy bill. what is the point of introducing this bill given all the obstacles you just laid out? >> we have been developing a clean energy standard. we have a good proposal to put out there. i am not naive enough to think everyone is going to immediately indicate support.
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it is a well thought out and streamlined simplified structure that could be used to provide incentives for utilities to move toward cleaner ways toward generating power. the president wanted us to use clean energy by 2035. we tried to structure it that way. the bottom line would be we would set a benchmark and say we do not want to have more than x number of metric tons of co2 produced for each kilowatt of electricity that is generated. it is a good proposal for that reason. i want to have been introduced and have a hearing on it. i do not think is likely to be enacted into law this year. at some point, it would be an intelligent way for the country to deal with the greenhouse gas problem.
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i am not a great one for forcing votes i cannot win. we are going to try to educate people and see where the old days are. >> do you bemoan the lack of power a committee chairman has? is this no longer the way it used to before a senate chairman? >> i do not know if it was ever
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particularly easy for a chairman to get a bill on the floor unless the bill related to something the majority leader and the full senate and the administration felt was right. we have got into a point of paralysis in the senate where you cannot do anything without getting 60 votes. you cannot proceed to a bill. you cannot cut off debate on a bill. most of the amendments offered on legislation, in order to get permission to offer the amendment, you have to agree that 60 votes would be required. that is an unfortunate procedural change that i have witnessed. >> i would like to talk about another current events. we saw the first nuclear reactors in 30 years get a
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federal permit. the chairman of the nrc was the lone dissenting vote on this. house republicans accuse him of being not responsive to others on the commission. does he have a point or is this a sign that he has to rethink it? >> i have not seen what statement he made to explain or justify his vote against this. everything i have read on the proposal would indicate it is a good thing. and have permitted these plants to go ahead. we depend heavily on electricity being generated from nuclear power. 20% of our electricity is produced from nuclear power.
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it did point to stay at that percentage, we have to build some new nuclear power plants. i am glad they have gone ahead and approved that. it is consistent with the loan guarantee program we were talking about earlier. it has significant support for these particular plants. all of the folks -- many of these folks -- critical of the loan guarantee program when it applies to solar energy are not as critical when it applies to nuclear. >> do you think enthusiasm for nuclear guarantees could save the program? >> i hope it keeps the program alive.
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we can see what the new report indicates about any changes that might be needed. the idea of a loan guarantee program was to provide support for various types of energy generation. nuclear was intended. solar was intended. win was intended. >> is possible on energy before you retire? >> this is a difficult congress to pass any substantial legislation. that is what we are faced with. it is difficult because of the upcoming election. i am not overly optimistic that we are going to get legislation through both houses of congress. if we can get some bipartisan cooperation to do some things, that would be great. >> no energy legislation? >> i am hoping we can pass some energy legislation. we do not have a clear path forward yet. we will just have to see. that is not unique to energy. i serve on the health committee and the education committee.
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we will not be able to do midterm corrections. there are things we need to do to make midterm corrections on the affordable care act that are un doable given the logjams in congress right now. it is hard to make progress.
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i have not read with the chairman said and i'm not sure exactly what lessons he thinks he has taken from fukushima that are not being considered adequately in this case. i would have to know what they are before it to pass judgment. >> a lesson to learn with respect to keystone. there has been a report released over a conflict of interest. do think it is time to revamp the way that overall environmental reviews are done to prevent companies with ties with applicants from having a role? >> again, i have not read the inspector general reports you are referring to. i would want to do that. there could be conflicts of
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interest that existed in the system and we should get them out. i agree with that general concept. i do not know the specific recommendations that have been made to eliminate potential conflicts. >> is anything possible before you retire on energy? >> that would be a great thing. the truth is that this is a very difficult congress in which to pass any substantial legislation. that is not just energy, but in any area. that is what we are faced with. particularly i think it is being made difficult because of the upcoming election. i am not overly optimistic that we're going to get legislation through both houses of congress that is significant in this area. if we can get some bipartisan
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cooperation to do some things, that would be great. >> and no energy legislation? somem hoping we can pass energy legislation, but we do not have a clear path forward yet. we will just have to see. it is not unique to energy. there are a lot of different subjects you can ask this on. i serve on the help and dedication committee, the health committee, and we will not be able to do we authorizations for no child left behind because of disagreements on that. there are a lot of things that we ought to be doing to make midterm corrections in the affordable care act. they are totally not doable right now given the logjam in the congress right now. there are a lot of different areas and it's hard to make progress. >> thank you for being our
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newsmaker. and we are back with our reporters. we will begin with what we heard about keystone. what did he say that was interesting to you? >> he tried to play this both ways. he is no liberal, but he tried to be receptive to liberals like shinsee baucus. -- senator baucus. they do not like this pipeline. >> we should mention barbara boxer is on the energy committee. >> we heard him an edge the gop position and a back. the house legislation would allow construction to start immediately on one end of the pipeline, but give nebraska
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there 8 -- their 8 months to figure out a route. essentially they would do both. we would start building now but wait until they review. >> where is this house legislation? could it be attached to something moving out of that chamber. >> the transportation bill is coming up for a vote next week. >> could that pass out of the house? where is its destination in the sense -- in the senate. >> badging get up with a senate bill is quite different. -- matching its up with a senate bill is quite different. they will have to come up with the funding to pay for the transportation bill so that there are questions. >> keystone in the senate? >> there is a push from senator dick lugar and others and they're trying to move the bill through there. there were able to

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